State finds use of pepper spray on Joint List MK justified

State Attorney Shai Nitzan and the Police Investigations Department closed on Thursday an investigation into a policeman for using pepper spray and allegedly firing a rubber bullet at Joint List party leader Ayman Odeh during the demolition of Beoduin village Um-al-Hiran in January 2017.

In explaining the decision, PID said that it found that the policeman‘s use of pepper spray on Odeh had been justified when less aggressive means to remove him from a dangerous area failed.

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Regarding the alleged firing of a rubber bullet grazing Odeh and another man, PID said that it could not clearly conclude that he had been shot by police.

Rather, PID said that an expert‘s report had said that Odeh had been hit by a heavy object which could have been a rubber bullet, but could have been other objects during a chaotic scene and that without the bullet, which was never found, there could be no prosecution.

Further, PID added that there was no evidence that a rubber bullet had been fired near Odeh though rubber bullets had been used elsewhere and that all of this evidence contradicted Odeh‘s personal testimony that he knew how it felt to be hit by a rubber bullet.
Overall, PID also said that the policeman was heavily impacted feeling that the situation was a developing terror situation.
Policeman Erez Shaul had already been killed as well as Beduin Yaakub al-Kian and there had been one other instance of police coming under fire.

Probes into the killing of Shaul and al-Kian were also previously closed with Nitzan controversially unwilling to rule whether al-Kian had been accidentally killed or whether he had acted as a terrorist, though there was heavy evidence that al-Kian was shot dead before a vehicle he was in drove toward police.

Odeh had been present to protest the controversial demolition of the Beduin town which had been ordered demolished, with court approval, but which Beduins consider part of attempts to clear some of their villages for new Jewish ones.

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